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The Trumpinization of a Grand Old Party

The big story on Tuesday was President Donald Trump’s anticlimactic photo-op with North Korea’s nutcase dictator, but but Wednesday people were taking notice that he’d somehow strengthened his control of the Republican party.
Tuesday was also primary day in South Carolina and Virginia, and by Wednesday morning the Trumpier candidates had prevailed.
In South Carolina incumbent Rep. Mark Sanford, who had voted with Trump 87 percent of the time but occasionally criticized him on television, lost to a more full-throated Trump loyalist after a presidential “tweet” that Sanford wasn’t “helping MAGA.” In a Virginia senate primary, the Republicans picked Corey Stewart, another Trump loyalist who ran on his Trumpian affection for Confederate monuments and antipathy to illegal immigration and abiding belief that were good people on both sides of that deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville.
Sanford had won his seat despite an unusually tawdry sex scandal while he was governor of South Carolina, as unusually tawdry sex scandals are of little concern to the erstwhile “family values” party in the age of Trump, but a bare majority of the state’s Republicans apparently found that 13 percent of the he voted against and the few times he went on television to criticize something Trump had said or done unforgivable. His opponent, state lawmaker Katie Harrington, had run a television advertisement promising that she wouldn’t appear on any cable news programs criticizing the president no matter what he might say or do or “tweets.”
Such North Korean fealty to the party’s dear leader will probably play well in South Carolina, where Trump is unaccountably popular, but Stewart will probably have a harder time with in Virginia. In the last presidential election Trump lost the state by five points to the awful Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee easily won last year’s gubernatorial despite Trump’s efforts, and the Democrats have been winning formerly Republican seats in most of the congressional and state and local races since Trump’s election. The damage has been especially acute in the mostly white and well-educated upper-class suburbs of the state, and although those are mostly federal government workers in Virginia the same problem has occurred in special elections almost everywhere since Trump was inaugurated.
Even here in reliably Republican Kansas there’s reasonable talk that the second congressional district, which is mostly the white and well-educated upper-class suburbs of Kansas City, is ripe for a Democratic upset. The mediocrity who replaced Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will probably prevail down here in the more blue-collar fourth district, but he won by an embarrassingly 7-point margin in the special election and actually lost the Wichita vote.
Tuesday also saw Tennessee’s Republican Sen. Bob Corker take to the Senate floor to fulminate about Trump’s crazy trade wars with our most longstanding allies, and grouse that so few Republicans supported his efforts to restrain such craziness, but he’s already announced he won’t run for reelection because his party won’t allow such heresy. Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona has been similarly courageous in confronting Trump, but he’s also announced he’s not bothering with another Republican primary. Arizona’s senior Sen. John McCain has been especially outspoken in his critique of the draft dodger who scoffed at his heroic war record, but he’s battling a likely fatal disease. The few other Republicans who dare to disagree with whatever Trump says or does or “tweets” are damned careful and deferential about how they say so.
We haven’t had the chance to visit the rest of the country recently, but our guess as rock-ribbed pre-Trump Kansas Republicans our guess is that fealty to Trump no matter what he says or does or “tweets” is not a longterm winning strategy for the the Republican party. Which is a damned shame, because we still don’t like those Democrats.

— Bud Norman

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Another Post-Reality Show

The Obama administration has escalated its war on America’s longstanding and satisfactory-to-more-than-99-percent of-the-population social arrangement regarding public restrooms and dressing rooms and overnight accommodations and certain sporting competitions being chromosome-segregated, and we see no light at the end of the tunnel.
Not content with challenging North Carolina’s recent law codifying that generally agreeable former social arrangement, the administration’s Department of Education has now threatened that any school district or federally-supported college or university which does not allow any boy or young man claiming to be a girl or young woman to enter into whatever restroom or dressing room or overnight accommodations or sporting event he desires will be in violation of federal law and ineligible for federal funding, and any attempt by a school district or federally-supported college or university to find out if that boy or young man really does think he’s a girl or young woman or is just trying to get into a girl’s restroom or dressing room or overnight accommodations or sporting event for more prurient reasons is similarly illegal. This obviously insane policy is based on the law known as “Title IX,” which conspicuously makes no mention of this nonsense, and which was passed and signed into law way back in 1972, when its backers would surely have scoffed at any paranoid right-wing worries that they ever meant any such thing, and repeated efforts to insert such language to the bill have repeatedly failed in Congress, but in an age when people can be whatever sex or race or height they want to be a law can surely mean whatever our betters at Obama’s Department of Education think it should mean.
Although less than 1 percent of the population stands to benefit from this social rearrangement, and most if not all of that mere fraction should not be encouraged in its probably passing fantastical notion they are actually of a different sex than what their genitalia and chromosomes indicate, and even though we hope that only a surely larger but still small number of boys will avail themselves of the legal opportunity to crash the women’s restrooms and dressing rooms and overnight accommodations and sporting events of women, the social rearrangement seems likely to prevail. Neither the self-described socialist or the disingenuously crony-capitalist still duking it out for the Democratic presidential have expressed any reservations, and the unabashedly crony-capitalist presumptive Republican presidential nominee is hardly any better.
After the administration announced its opening salvo on North Carolina for daring to try to preserve the old social arrangement, the presumptive Republican nominee’s first response was a criticism of the state for bringing down the wrath of some aging rock stars and youthful corporations by bucking the latest trend, and he even invited his fellow reality-show star Bruce “Caitlyn” Jenner to use the ladies room at his fabulous Trump Tower, but he quickly retreated to a “state’s rights” position that generously allowed the Tar-Heels to take what he had already admitted was a losing stand. In the aftermath of the escalation he’s still sticking to that “state’s rights” position, which we concede is at least better than what the Democrats are offering, but he’s been careful not to suggests that states would be right to insist on the old and largely satisfactory social arrangement, and “state’s rights” has the same unmistakable unsavory historical connotations as the otherwise equally benign “America First” slogan when he says it.
The presumptive Republican nominee’s reluctance to directly challenge the absolute absurdity of the post-reality nature of the administration’s policy or its post-reality interpretation of the law is by now not surprising, though, nor is his reluctance to talk back his criticism of a state that dared defy the policy. He’s a thrice-married and four-times-bankrupt-gambling-casino-and-strip-joint mogul and a veteran of the professional-wrestling and reality-show business, and he seems quite eager to assume any post-reality legal powers that the presidency has gained over the past seven-and-a-half-years, and at this point in his career as the presumptive nominee of the Republican party we must glumly admit that his oh-so-politically-incorrect and at-least-he-fights sense of the pop cultural zeitgeist of the moment is certainly better than what our more hopeful souls could ever hope for.
At least the Republican National Committee and numerous Republican governors and attorneys general and countless other elected Republicans officials have taken a more forthright stand to fight against against this politically correct and post-reality craziness, and in favor of those longstanding social arrangements that have so long been agreeable to more than 99 percent of the population, but at this point they’re the dreaded “establishment” that the presumptive Republican nominee’s most fervent supporters want to burn down. This is how longstanding and generally agreeable social arrangements that have worked for millennia end, and a post-reality show begins.

— Bud Norman

No Restroom for the Weary

As much as we’d like to ignore all the noisome brouhaha about transgendered restroom rights, and merely dismiss it as just another one of those passing post-religious manias that so often occur these days, there are bigger issues involved.
Until about 15 minutes or so ago the current social arrangement of providing chromosome-segregated restrooms and dressing rooms in public and private buildings had prevailed almost everywhere in the civilized world, and been generally acceptable to more than 99 percent of every country’s population, but these days that’s insufficient reason not to have a noisome brouhaha over something. The city council of Charlotte, North Carolina, decided that it would welcome a tiny minority of men into its women’s rooms and a presumably even smaller number of women into its men’s rooms, so the state legislature quickly passed and the governor signed into law a bill saying that no, this is just another one of those post-religious manias that so often occur these days and more than 99 percent of the state’s population was perfectly happy with the existing social arrangement and we’re going to keep it, and even the fractional remainder of the country had somehow managed to cope, but of course there was nonetheless a resulting brouhaha.
Some aging rock stars cancelled concerts in the state, other celebrities “tweeted” their disapproval of North Carolina, some more youthfully vibrant corporations promised boycotts, and even a governor of another state restricted university sports teams and other employees from traveling to the state, even though all were perfectly willing to do business in countries where homosexuality is quite sternly punished and transgendered rights to public restrooms and dressing rooms is an entirely unfamiliar idea. That the likes of this motley and hypocritical coalition might well overturn a long established social arrangement that had previously been accepted by more than 99 percent of the population is one of those bigger issues that we worry about.
Perhaps worse yet, the federal government is also in on it, with the Obama administration’s thoroughly politicized Department of Justice bringing a lawsuit against the state of North Carolina alleging that its legal affirmation of the longstanding and accepted-by-more-than-99-percent-of-the-policy social range is in violation of the law that was passed in 1972 and by now well-known as “Title IX.” The law has reconfigured college sports and countless other institutions by on insisted on sexual equality in public expenditures, sometimes for the good and often for the worse, but any plain reading of its text suggests there’s nothing in there quite so crazy as insisting ending that well-established and overwhelmingly approved insistence on chromosome-segrated restrooms and dressing rooms. The act makes no mention of “sexual identity,” and despite repeated efforts Congress has consistently refused to include it, and anyone with a vague memory of 1972 will recall that no one was asserting some creepy guy’s right to hang around the women’s restrooms or dressings rooms. When the Equal Rights Amendment was being debate in our high school days there was some concern that it would render chromosome-segregated restrooms as unconstitutional as the “white’s only” restrooms of the Jim Crow south, just as the Justice Department is now alleging. ┬áBack then such a legal authority as current far-left Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who would surely rule against North Carolina now, was reassuring that 99-percent-satisfied-with-current-social-arrangement that “Separate places to disrobe, sleep, perform personal bodily functions are permitted, in some situations required, by regard for personal privacy. Individual privacy, a right of constitutional dimension, is appropriately harmonized with the equality principle.”
What you’ve got here is a bunch of celebrities and some rich businessmen and some equally unaccountable bureaucrats who can interpret a 1972 law from their 15-minutes-ago perspective imposing their policies to overturn the past many millennia of social-customs-accepted-by-more-than-99-percent of the population, and that is the biggest issue. of all
We’d like to think that the presumptive nominee of our once-beloved Republican Party would at least take a forthright stand against this nonsense from the outset, but the oh-so-politically-incorrect fellow instead expressed dismay that North Carolina would offend any aging rock stars or vibrant young companies by causing a brouhaha, then gave a shout-out to his fellow reality star Bruce “Caitlyn” Jenner and invited him or her to use the women’s room at his fabulous Trump Tower, and although he quickly walked it back to a state’s rights position that is at least better than his likely Democratic challenger’s stand, for the moment, we are not all reassured. There are very big issues afoot in this country. The bureaucracy’s creative and five-minutes-ago interpretations of laws passed by people who had no such intentions in mind, and are unrecognizable to anyone who bothers to read the plain English today, are already creating economic and environmental and social and racial havoc on our society, but at the moment the only question seems to be whose ox will gored.

— Bud Norman

Politics Goes into the Toilet

America is $19 trillion in debt, Russian warplanes are buzzing our naval ships with impunity, and there are other similarly pressing problems afoot both at home and abroad, but all the talk lately is about transgendered rights and restrooms. Interestingly, Republican presidential front-runner Donald J. Trump has utterly failed to seize the moment.
The currently fashionable notion that any pervert who wants hang around public women’s restrooms and showers has every right to do so, which is backed by everyone from big business to aging rock stars to all the polite media, is the perfect example of “political correctness” run amok. Yet Trump, whose improbable rise to front-runner status has been largely fueled by his carefully cultivated politically incorrect public image, has thrown in with big business and the aging rock stars and all the polite media and the perverts who want to hang around public women’s restrooms and showers.
Asked about the recent North Carolina law that requires state institutions to restrict their current dual restrooms and showers to people with the genitalia usual to those facilities, which was a response to the predictably liberal dcapital city’s local government’s decision to enshrine that hanging around the ladies’ room right to any creepy guy who might want to avail himself of it, and wound up provoking boycotts by big business and aging rock stars and getting a former pitching star fired from ESPN and much opprobrium from all the rest of the polite media, the great controversialist and defier of conventional wisdom said the state was wrong because it “did something that was very strong” and “they’re paying a big price” and “there’s a lot of problems.” The “at least he fights” candidate, as he’s known to his so-loyal-could-shoot-someone loyalists, was essentially saying that North Carolina should allow any old pervert to hang around public women’s restrooms and showers rather than provoke the wrath of big business and aging rock stars and all the polite media and all the rest of who legitimately constitute that “establishment” he’s always railing against.
He’s been rewarded with the rare approval of the the polite press, and who find his stand on behalf of creepy old men hanging around women’s restrooms and showers “moderate,” and his most loyal-he-could-shoot-someone loyalists will consider it a shrewd and admirably insincere tactic with a slew of primaries and caucuses coming up in assumedly liberal northeastern states, but it strikes us as an obvious miscalculation. That polite press is going to start unleashing the obvious facts of the undeniable flaws in Trump’s character the moment he clinches the Republican nomination, those northeastern states aren’t going to vote for a Republican nominee in any case, and even the Republicans there are in those benighted northeastern states aren’t comfortable with creepy men hanging around the women’s rooms that their daughters are visiting, and even in those assumedly liberal states there are probably few transgendered people among them who will be persuaded to vote Trump. In the western states where Trump will almost certainly need the first-round delegates, even in the last remaining Republican portions of California, we are confident that most Republicans will prefer pesky challenger Sen. Ted Cruz’ full-throated and politically-incorrect and very populist view that the biologically-verifiable men should be confined to men’s rooms and showers that the those without the usual genitalia should be denied to entry to women’s rooms and showers.
In the same disastrous interview Trump was asked about Harriet Tubman’s elevation to to the $20 bill over former President Andrew Jackson, another one of those relatively unimportant issues that dominate the news, and we liked his response that the government should leave the currency alone. He didn’t articulate our objections to the Taliban-like tendency of the left to erase history, though, or make his usual objection to the politically correct impulse to favor Dead Black Females over Dead White Males, but instead chose to laud Jackson as a great president and dismiss the gun-toting and Bible-thumping and thoroughly Republican badass Tubman as a nobody. Jackson was the founder of the Democratic Party, the first vulgarian to occupy the White House, a calculating populist who exploited the economic ignorance of his understandably annoyed so-loyal-he-could-shoot-someone loyalists and wound up plunging the country into its worst-yet Depression because of his crazy anti-financial-ector ideas, and a cruel slaver and the fellow who sent the admirable and patriotic Cherokee people on the Trail of Tears, but that probably won’t matter as much as the creepy guys hanging around the women’s restrooms and showers.
Trump’s so loyal-he-could-shoot-someone loyalists will assure themselves he doesn’t really mean it, and they’ll be satisfied when he once again walks back that shoot-from-the-hip style they so admire, but that persistent 60 percent of the Republican party that is reluctant about his politically incorrect “at least he fights” style won’t be impressed, and even the creepy old men hanging around the women’s rooms and showers will wind up voting for the Democrat.

— Bud Norman